What we’ve realised since we bought the house this time last year is that there is no really bad time to cycle in Provence. Yes Summer is hot, but speaking as a ‘mad dog’ I’m very happy to go out in the mid-day sun and to be honest it gives us a great excuse for plenty of stops in village cafes and of course the odd ice cream! Although I will say our French neighbours think we are mad!
Autumn is delightful – the weather is still gorgeous and the roads are virtually empty – you really feel you have the place to yourself and the colours as the grapes come to harvest and the leaves start to turn are just beautiful.
To be honest even Winter isn’t too bad (especially after cycling in the cold and wet in the UK)- It can be chilly and we didn’t start cycling till later in the morning that we would normally do, but Andy and George had a lovely ride to the summit of Mont Ventoux on Boxing Day & as long as you have the right kit you’re fine. When I say the right kit that doesn’t necessarily include the scarf & woolly hats & socks we have seen as Winter accessories to Lycra!
However Spring is incredible & already I think it’s my favourite time to ride here – I’m cycling in shorts & short-sleeved jersey, without gloves & the roads are empty……..
With the verges filled with wild-flowers………
And the Cherry trees are in full blossom.
Today I was eager to get out on Miss Daisy & as usual started off along The Veloroute du Calavon, passing through Apt & heading out to the village of Le Chene, although instead of turning to continue along the cycle route, I headed through Le Chene turning right towards Le Perrotet and meandered through to the hamlet, before taking the road that runs past the entrance to the beautiful La Coquillade Hotel – I do keep promising myself a visit to their Spa, but haven’t quite managed it yet!
After a while this road brings you onto the main road to Roussillon and here you head up the hill through the vineyards & ochre cliffs towards the village. It doesn’t matter how many times I visit the village – I never tire of Roussillon – the colours are so vibrant and there is always plenty going on as well as some wonderful people-watching to be done.
The boulangerie at the entrance to the village is excellent & today I grabbed the chance of a second breakfast (well I was cycling!) and sat soaking up the sun, with a croissant and coffee at a bar overlooking the view towards Saint-Saturnin.
Of course I could easily have sat there all day, but that would never do (I had to work that croissant off somehow) – so I headed out of the village the way I had come in and took the first turning right towards nearby Goult.
This quiet little road takes you along a high ridge of land, bordered by pines, which even today smelt wonderful – between the trees you catch glimpses of the other villages in the distance, before you see Goult on its hilltop as the road drops down, leaving you to do the last climb up into the village.
From here follow the signs to Lumieres and then cross the main valley road at the roundabout & start heading up the road to Lacoste. It must have been nearly 12 months ago that Andy first cycled this road and came across ‘Mr Snuffleupagus’ and since then the hill has been known to us all as ‘Snuffleupagus Hill’. For anyone wondering what on earth I’m talking about ‘Aloysius Snuffleupagus’ is an Elephant in Sesame Street & this ivy bears an uncanny resemblance to him – or is it only us that thinks that?
Mr Snuffleupagus is near the top of the hill, before you turn right to head into Lacoste itself, which is a stunning village, always worth exploring, topped by the Chateau previously owned by the Marquis de Sade. There are also stunning views across the valley towards Bonnieux, which is the next stop on this ride.
Dropping out of Lacoste the road winds across the valley between the villages and at the moment it is filled with the low buzz of bees busy in the blossom of the Cherry Trees, which pack the orchards along the route, which then bears left and climbs into Bonnieux.
I have a real soft spot for Bonnieux, it has a real heart and a lovely Friday morning market and I see there is a pottery market there over the Eater weekend (sadly I’ll be heading back to the UK then so will miss it – such a shame as I do love the local pottery markets)
The Boulangerie on the roundabout by the lower Church is a favourite stop of ours, but also the Brasserie Les Terrasses, on the road up to the higher part of the village, which has one of the best, if not the best view in the area and even if I don’t necessarily need to cycle past it I tend to head up there just to enjoy the view, like today.
Today’s cycle then took me back down the hill & along the old road signposted to Apt, which is a wonderful 12 km gentle downhill run & the perfect way to end the ride back to the Veloroute and home.
The whole circuit is just under 60km – so I think I did enough to work that croissant off – perhaps I’ll go for 2 next time!
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